The food and beverage industry constitutes almost one quarter of manufacturing revenues in Victoria. This industry routinely uses detergents and cleaning agents that produce high salinity trade waste that is discharged to water utilities’ sewage treatment facilities. This in turn makes a significant contribution to high salinity in the recyclable water available from these plants. Salinity is currently the major inhibitor to reuse of treated effluent for irrigation purposes.
This project investigated cleaning practices in the food and beverage industry and recommends changes to cleaning products and processes to reduce salinity in trade waste with the object of improving the quality of available recycled water.
Fifteen companies in the food and beverage industry were surveyed and three processes representing a range of cleaning challenges were selected for further study. A test rig to simulate food processing conditions was assembled and seven different commercial cleaning products assessed for production of salinity in trade waste.
Membrane technology for recovery and reuse of cleaning agents was investigated and a set of recommendations formulated together with a cost benefit analysis for implementation.
Cost effective reduction in salinity in treated effluent can be achieved by changes to cleaning practices in the food and beverage industry.
These changes include;
- Replacement of conventional cleaning agents with low total dissolved salt cleaners, with a specific focus on sodium-free cleaning agents,
- Recovery, treatment and subsequent reuse of cleaning agents using membrane filtration to reduce the salinity of discharged trade waste,
- Optimisation of cleaning cycles using on-line monitoring techniques and technology transfer of improved cleaning practices to full scale industrial use.
Adoption of these measures would significantly reduce salinity in this industry’s trade waste and allow use of greater quantities of recycled water for irrigation purposes following standard sewage treatment.